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Today, I got to spend more time with Pokémon-Amie and Super Training, and am pretty impressed thus far. Pokémon-Amie is quite similar to Nintendogs in that you can feed, pet and play with your Pokemon. When I first heard about the feature I thought it sounded quite dumb, but being able to pet your Pokemon is incredibly adorable (see screenshot below). One of the main reasons I dismissed it initially was because it seemed pointless. I’ve always had a problem with the games introducing new, pointless mechanics (like the Pokémon Musical in Black/White), especially when it means cutting genuinely good gameplay features like Pokémon Contests in Ruby/Sapphire. Pokémon-Amie does, however, have a purpose. As you play with your Pokémon, they become friendlier towards you. This is a more intimate method of acquiring certain Pokémon that only evolve when they really like their trainers, but Serebii has mentioned that there might be some other effects like increasing your critical-hit ratio.
Bidoof loves it when you rub his ears… but not his teeth.
Super Training is an equally interesting new feature that allows you to boost your Pokémon’s stats through minigames. There are two different elements to it: Super Training and Core Training. In Super Training, your Pokemon tries to fire balls into a balloon foe’s goals, while avoiding its projectiles. You gain points for each successful hit, and after the game is over your Pokemon’s ‘base stats’ will increase by a predetermined amount. Although the minigames are simple, they are quite entertaining and are a nice alternative to EV (Effort Value) training. The feature even includes a meter that tracks how many EVs your Pokémon has acquired. It makes the process of EV training accessible and simple for any player to understand.
In addition to exploring Super Training and Pokémon-Amie, I have also added two new Pokémon to my team: Flabébé, a Fairy-type, and Honedge, a dual Ghost/Steel type. Both of them are new additions to the extensive library of characters, and I quite like their designs. Honedge looks like a sword with a ghostly hand emerging from the end. Some people think it looks dumb, but I find it to be quite an interesting design. Flabébé is some sort of flower pixie, and as soon as I saw it I knew it would be an interesting way to try out the new type. Fairy-type finally gives players a way to easily take down Dragon-type foes, although unfortunately there are none of them this early on in the game. I still haven’t seen many Fairy-type attacks, so there’s not much I can say about it at the moment! I always forget that it’s weak against Poison moves, and it’s gotten me into trouble a few times.
I still haven’t arrived at the second gym yet, 11 hours into the game, but I have explored a castle, been through a skate park, explored a small portion of the gigantic Lumoise city and even moved a sleeping Snorlax, which I found to be a nice call-back to the old games. So far my only qualm is that my Pokémon are much higher-levelled than my foes, even though I haven’t been grinding at all. This has always been an issue with the franchise, and I understand that the game needs to appeal to people of all ages, so all I can do is hope that it’ll get more challenging later on. I was also a bit disappointed to see that HMs have returned, although this didn’t really surprise me. Regardless, I’ve got a Bidoof to fill all my HM needs, so it’s not much of a problem!
I also got to try out Horde Battles, but at this point they’re more of a hassle than anything – more on them next time!
While passing through Lumoise city, I visited Professor Sycamore in his lab and finally begin to see glimpses of a story beginning to unfold. The Professor asked me and my four friends to try and understand the mystery of Mega Evolution. During my travels, the idea of Mega Evolution, what it means, and how to do it has been popping up all over the place and I quite like it. It’s a mystery to which the answer is shown to me in glimpses, and it pushes me to press on. As well, I met a man named Lysander who seems to have an obsession with beauty and its preservation. His dialogue gives off a slightly ominous feeling that is masked by his friendliness, and I have a feeling he’ll be showing up later…
Next time: The second gym, fossils, and more!